Friday, March 23, 2018

A popular repair on RV EPDM roofs is using coatings, which are supplied by many different manufactures. People think that using coatings to repair your roof is the easiest of all the repairs available. The instructions will start by telling you to thoroughly clean the membrane before you apply the product. Then you will need to measure out the area on the roof to be repaired; for example, you would measure out ten square feet, forty square feet, or one hundred square feet, depending on what you were repairing. They will tell you that one gallon of their product should cover a certain amount of square foot. Lets say, as an example, one gallon covers 100 square feet, .020 mil thick; when you finish applying one gallon, you should be around 100 square feet in coverage. You will use a squeegee or a paint roller to apply their product. So you have applied the product over the area you measured, and your bucket is empty; this means everything worked out as planned, right? Unfortunately, you do not know that for certain. How do you know if you have an equal coating over the entire roof? You could very easily have it thicker in some places than others; some places may have it .040 mil thick while others have only .010 mil thick. Even professionals have trouble being sure the coating is even over the entire roof. This is a major weakness when it comes to installing coatings over an existing roof. Fast forward to five years down the road, when you realize your roof is failing in certain areas. Say you have a warranty and the company asks for a sample; if the sample you send them is only .010 mil thick instead of the specified .020 mil thick, they will tell you that you have applied the coating wrong.

It would seem you are successful because you applied just the right amount of coating for the amount of square feet the instructions told you. But this would not be a true statement, because how would know that you had an equal amount of coating over all of this area? You could very easily have it .040 thick in places and as thin as .010 mill in others. There is no true way to gauge and install the same thickness all over the roof. Even professionals have trouble in making sure that you have met the minimum thickness requirements for the coating products. This is a major weak spot in installing coatings over any existing roof. If you have a warranty problem and they ask for a sample of the failed area and it is only .018 mil thick instead of the specified .020 mil thick they could deny your warranty claim.

This just goes to show you that the "easiest" solution is not always the best solution..

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Never! Never! Never! use a tape product that is not designed specifically for your EPDM rubber roof on your RV. There are many different products that are sold to repair your RV roof but you should use only those that are made out of the same EPDM material. Remember that all EPDM roofing  technology and repair procedures were developed by the commercial roofing manufactures. As we have stated previously, they are only two manufactures of this product in the U.S.: Carlisle Syntec Systems and Firestone Building Products. Their roofing systems have warranties up to thirty years on a roof. This is an extreme amount of time to be exposed to possible failures, so they do years of research and testing to make sure their products will perform. Never use any caulking that is not EPDM or butyl based.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How to Save Thousands on RV Roof Repairs
A brief history of RV roofing
Original RV roof, looking at the front

This article is not written to be a complete history of RV roofing, but to give you an overview of what has happened over the last forty years. In the early 1960s, most of the RV roofs were using a metal product to make the roof water tight. Then, in the early 1980s, white EPDM roofing membrane was introduced to this market. At the time there were only two manufactures of this product in the U.S.: Carlisle and Colonial Rubber Works.  I was an employee of Colonial Rubber Works at that time, so I am more knowledgeable about their involvement in this market. Colonial was looking for another market to sell their EPDM sheeting into, so they started contacting RV manufactures about using their EPDM sheet on roofs of the RVs being produced in the factory. The ability of EPDM roofing to withstand outside weathering and UV light degradation made it one of the best roofs to put on a flat roof surface.

Original RV roof, on the back

With this information, Colonial then sent salesmen to the manufactures with the EPDM roofing product. The RV industry was very interested in this product and its longevity on the roof. Since RV’s are produced in a factory, the manufactures were very concerned about how quickly they could install this product on a new roof and the cost. They were convinced this was a superior product, but the determining factor would be how quickly it could be installed in the manufacturing environment. They found out that this product could be installed quickly and give the consumer a better product. At this time Colonial provided a ten-year warranty on their white EPDM roofing while the manufacturers usually gave a 5-year warranty to their customers. This EPDM product was .045 mil thick and white. It quickly became the dominate roof in the RV roofing industry. 

Damaged roof, front of RV

Colonial continued testing the white EPDM membrane to make sure the membrane would hold up long term on any flat roof. I worked in the research and development (R&D) lab and tech service with the roofing division. One of my jobs was to visit the job site when a customer had a complaint with Colonial’s EPDM roofing. We found that even though EPDM is one of the best rubbers for UV resistance, there were problems with the membrane after being exposed on a roof after eight to fifteen years; this only occurred on the White EPDM membrane. We found that white EPDM membrane would chalk and develop cracks in the membrane after direct exposure to the sun. We cut samples and examined them under a microscope and found out that some of these small cracks would go deep enough into the membrane it could fail and leak. At that time, Colonial was only giving a ten-year warranty. In 1993 or 1994, Firestone bought Colonial Rubber’s roofing plant in Kingstree, South Carolina.  Since then, manufacturers have started making their membrane half white and half black. This serves two purposes: if the white cracks, the black will still be water tight and it cuts the cost since white EPDM is more expensive.

Damaged roof, front of RV

EPDM white on black roofing dominated the market until a couple of years ago when RV manufacturers started looking at cheaper roofing products. Some of them replaced the .038 mil and .040 mil EPDM with a .030 mil thick TPO. This product is extremely thin and will not hold up as a long-term roof. This is not important to the RV manufacturers since they only warranty their product for a limited time and most of the roofing problems won’t occur until after the warranty period, so they are off the hook. This seems extremely short sighted on their part since RVs cost thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Applying the adhering membrane for the new roof, front of RV

You may wonder why I am writing this article or what is in it for me, and that’s a good question. Yes, I have been involved in the do it yourself (DIY) market for EPDM roofing and RV roofing since 1993.  At that time, I formed my own company, AKT Specialty. I do not sell any RV products direct to the manufacturers; I only supply homeowners and RV owners with products to do their own repairs or replacements. To be truthful, the moves that RV manufacturers made to be more efficient and cut cost has been great for my business, but bad for consumers. There are tens of thousands of RV roofs failing every year and we supply consumers with RV roofing products for those repairs. I have owned five RVs and I understand the frustration that comes when you pay $40,000+ for an RV and have a roof leak within the first six years.

Applying metal bar to the front of the RV roof, on top of the rubber

There are a couple of things that manufacturers of RVs can do that will save consumers millions of dollars and cost them only fifty to a hundred dollars per unit, but they are not willing to do it because roofing problems don’t show up big until the warranty is expired.  First, they can go to a thicker membrane which would only cost a few more cents per square foot. Secondly, they could add an eight-foot strip of EPDM cover tape on the front and back of the RV where the metal is pulled up over the roof and fastened down with screws and a metal bar. When this RV roof detail is installed at the factory, they use a thick bead of caulk.  In the roofing industry, caulking is a temporary solution and not permanent like cover tape. Almost all the leaks I have encountered with the RV roofs have been in this location. Be sure you use an EPDM tape that has been designed by the manufacturer and always prime the location where the tape is being applied; this will help it be a permanent solution rather than just temporary.  I would recommend taping these two areas before leaks ruin the roof and cost thousands of dollars. I did some research and found out that it costs from three to seven thousand dollars to replace your RV roof.

Applying 6" tape over the metal bar on the front of the roof

I would like to warn you to be careful when ordering replacement roofs for your RV. There are products out there that are only 8’6” wide that are cheaper because of their width and thickness. The factory does use this product, but their installation is done by professionals and they don’t make mistakes during installation. I have personally installed these membranes on damaged RV roofs and with this narrow 8’6” material, you have only an inch or two to play with and if you’re over an inch you could not get a good seal around your roof edge detail and that will result in a leak. If you have a mistake on the edge and you have glued the membrane down, you have a terrible mess to correct. I recommend that you always purchase a product at least a foot wider than you need, as this will save time and money. Just remember, if you purchased a bullet proof vest, would you want one that was thin or would you want the thicker one which would surely provide more protection? I hope this information is helpful and I will try to provide some videos and pictures that might help you. You can always contact Johnnie or Tim at and we will be glad to discuss your needs or questions.  Our toll free number is 1-866-630-7660.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Another rubber roofing product I would like to introduce to the public is the Firestone EPDM .090 mil roofing. Almost all epdm roofing products are either .045 or .060 mils thick. This membrane was designed to with stand more foot trafic and last a life time. It only comes in ten foot widths. It is an ideal product when installing a floating deck over a water proofing membrane. This product has also been used for many other uses. One of the more interesting one is for dog kennels. The membrane dosn't hurt the dog's feet and when they pee the pee doesn't soak into the concrete floor and have an odor. People also put this in the bottom of their horse trailers. You can purchase this membrane at and

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wow its been a year since I have posted information on my blog. I hope to do better in 2013. My interest has been in EPDM rubber roofing and EPDM pond liner. Most of my comments have been about the roofing side. I continue to be involved in projects dealing with this product. I have recently been to a couple of conventions dealing with epdm roofing and pond liners.  The home pond liner market is dominated by epdm membrane. The most used one is Firestones PondGard epdm pond liner. There are a few very interesting things happening in the pond liner market. There are a lot of enviromental concerns present in the United States about water quality and water retention. So Fireston PondGard has spent a lot of time and money researching this market and developing products for it. One is called it's Epic system, this system uses liner, gravel, sand and pipe to convert a landscape or football field into a self-supporting system. The under ground liner holds the water to water the grass or landscape thus doing away with the need to water with sprinklers or hoses. This actually sotres your water on the premises. This systems are not cheap but they are working like they were designed to do. Most of these systems are being used commerically. I hope to give you more details about this system and pricing in the future. The other system Firestone is introducing is their Epic water garden kit. This kit is not your conventional water garden kit. We usually think about a water garden kit as being one that you have water and fish in. This new one is actually designed for the home gardener who rasies vegetables or flowers. This design is very exciteing and will help the homeowner to grow their own produce with-out the hassele of watering. This kit will be out sometime in March and I will let you know more about this product then. Both these products are available at and

Monday, January 9, 2012

We have finially started removing the old rubber membrane off of the camper. We found this to be very difficult because the old membrane was in so bad of shape it tore apart when trying to pull off. Once we removed the membrane we noticed that a lot of the wood decking had rotted and had to be replaced. The support rafters were still ok. On this install instead of removing all of the rotted board we covered it with new one quarter inch thick plywood. then screwed it into the rafters. We then cut all of our vent holes and cut a hole for the air-c0nditionare. We now had our Rv roof ready to install. We opened our box that contained our Roof-Top EPDM rubber membrane and carried it onto the RV roof. We unfolded the rubber roofing and completly covered the wood deck. We had about ten inches extra hanging over the edge, this was ok since we will trim the excess after the rubber membrane is glued down. After the rubber roofing was in place we folded it back in half over itself. We did this length wise not width. Always be carfull when doing this and avoid falling into the holes you have cut into your roof deck for your vents and air-conditionare. Once the membrane was folded back over itself we applied the glue onto the wood deck and membrane. We let dry to touch and then laid the membrane into the glue. Once this is done repeat the proceedure. The easiest way we found to lay the rubber roofing onto the deck was to get two ladders and put them on opposite sides of the RV. Then have a person on each ladder. Each person would grab the rubber roofing and pull into the glue. Try to stay to geather while doing this to keep from getting wrinkles in the roofing. This install went smooth and we are now ready to install the metal end pieces and the metal around the roof. Will do this later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We have started removing the metal strip on the top side of the camper. This metal strip holds the roofing on the edges to the camper. We first removed the rubber gasket and then started removing the screws. However some of the screws stripped out and could not be unscrewed with a screw driver. We had to get a small blade and cut the screws into to remove. You may also have to use a pry bar to help with the removal of these screws. The metal strip on the top of the roof on the front of the camper was also removed. We had to cut the caulking off to remove these screws. We are now ready to remove all of the old roofing membrane. This will be difficult since the membrane is so deterioated that it is in pieces. We will let you know how this goes.